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VOL. 42 | NO. 1 | Friday, January 5, 2018

Commerce Union becomes Reliant Bancorp

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Brentwood-based Commerce Union Bancshares, Inc. changed its name to Reliant Bancorp, as of the last day of 2017.

Commerce Union is the parent company for Reliant Bank.

The action preceded the company’s merger with Community First, Inc. the parent company of Community First Bank & Trust located in Columbia, Tennessee which occurred on Jan. 1

The company’s stock began trading under the new ticker symbol “RBNC” on Jan. 2

According to financial data as of Sept. 30, the Community First merger will create the fourth largest community bank by assets headquartered in the Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Metropolitan Statistical Area.

On a pro forma basis as of Sept. 30, 2017, the combined company will have assets of approximately $1.5 billion, deposits of approximately $1.3 billion and gross loans of approximately $1.1 billion. It will operate 15 branches, two loan and deposit production offices and two mortgage services locations throughout Middle Tennessee and Chattanooga.

“The addition of Community First in 2018 will provide our shareholders with a much stronger base to grow our combined operations in the future,’’ says DeVan D. Ard, Jr., chairman, president and chief executive officer of Commerce Union Bancshares, Inc.

“We are excited about the future of Reliant Bancorp, Inc. and look forward to building the Reliant brand across our markets in Middle Tennessee and Chattanooga.”

TDCI assesses $1.4M in civil penalties in ’17

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance Division of Regulatory Boards has announced its year-end report.

The state issued over 143,000 licenses to professionals, received 3,801 complaints and assessed $1.4 million in civil penalties in 2017.

A pilot program was launched allowing license holders to print extra copies of their licenses as well as instituting the Customer Service Center.

The Division saw a number of notable increases including:

  • The overall number of licensees grew from 235,665 (2016) to 240,393 (2017).
  • The number of licenses issued in a year grew from 127,304 (2016) to 143,324 (2017).
  • The number of complaints grew from 2,819 (2016) to 3,801 (2017).

“I’m proud of the accomplishments of our Regulatory Boards team who have worked tirelessly to help improve the Division by making it more user-friendly and responsive for both licensees and the general public,” says Deputy Commissioner Brian McCormack.

During Fiscal Year 2017, the Division completed the following inspections and investigations:

  • 556 investigations
  • 12,842 cosmetology/barber Inspections
  • 4,233 motor vehicle Inspections
  • 428 scrap metal Inspections
  • 17, 503 total inspections

The Gulch welcomes Kona Espresso Bar

Kona Espresso Bar is now open in the new CapStar Bank building in The Gulch.

The grand opening at 1201 Demonbreun St. No. 100 was held Jan. 3.

Kona is the second venture by the Buttner brothers, Ryan and Justin, and longtime friend and business partner Robert Kane.

The newly-built, 1400-square-foot space faces Demonbreun and combines Nashville’s urban neighborhood with Hawaiian coffee and culture.

Kona will offer 100 percent Kona coffee, a rotating selection of locally roasted coffee, tea, smoothies, juices, breakfast, lunch and snack options.

“Kona” refers to Kailua-Kona, the largest town on the Big Island of Hawaii and one of the premium specialty coffee-growing regions of the world.

The Buttner brothers were partners in the Bare Naked Bagel food truck which they opened in Nashville. 2013

The brothers and Kane are from New York.

Justin moved to Nashville after college and began his corporate career. Robert became a chef after college and has worked in the restaurant industry for 15 years.

He relocated to Nashville to join Justin at Bare Naked Bagel.

Kane attended Cornell University’s School of Hotel Management where he concentrated in food and beverage. He has worked with world-renowned chefs such as Marcus Samuelsson, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and, most notably, Daniel Boulud.

“There’s no better spot to launch Kona’s first location,” Kane says, “and we look forward to serving the residents, businesses and tourists of the neighborhood.”

Sovereign partners with Louisiana Wildlife

Franklin-based Sovereign Sportsman Solutions Partners has announced its partnership with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

Sovereign will serve as the agency’s exclusive provider of online licenses, permit registrations and other related services.

The company says updated automation and services will be available in early 2018.

“We look forward to working with such a committed team of dedicated professionals promoting the outdoors in their state,” says Eric Richey, Sovereign’s CEO.

“Additionally, our teams are up to the challenge of providing a customized solution covering all the state species of game and both fresh and saltwater aquatic life. We could not be more excited about our relationship with this forward-thinking state agency.”

Adds Jack Montoucet, of the Louisiana department: “We are pleased to be working with Sovereign Sportsman Solutions as our license vendor. Our state’s hunters, anglers, conservationists and others will greatly benefit from our modernized systems as we continue to offer them simplified license access and user-friendly license renewal opportunities.”

Rate hike overstated in federal ash cleanup

NASHVILLE (AP) — State environmental regulators say it shouldn’t cost ratepayers more money or take as long as the nation’s largest public utility has estimated to complete a massive, court-ordered coal ash cleanup at a Tennessee power plant.

The state also believes the Tennessee Valley Authority might save money by following the court’s order at Gallatin Fossil Plant.

That’s because the other option – leaving 11 million cubic yards (8 million cubic meters) of ash in unlined pits and putting a cap on them – could fail to stop pollution and require future cleanup, according to a consultant’s analysis for the state obtained through a public records request.

The utility says it’s taking steps to follow the court’s cleanup requirement, even as it pushes to get the order struck down on appeal.

The state has a separate, ongoing lawsuit against the Tennessee Valley Authority over pollution at Gallatin.

“Like the federal court, we have concerns that the coal ash pond is susceptible to sinkholes and currently leaking heavy metals into the groundwater,” said Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation spokesman Eric Ward.

In August, a federal judge ordered the ash excavated and removed, saying it’s leaking pollutants into the Cumberland River in violation of the Clean Water Act and poses risks while it remains where it is.

But the judge said there was scant evidence of harm caused by the pollution so far.

The utility has contended capping the waste where it sits would be less expensive and avoid a possible larger spill from moving the ash. But capping the ash isn’t an option under the court order.

State’s unemployment rates stay below 5%

Unemployment rates in November remained low in Tennessee and the majority of counties continue to experience rates below 5 percent.

The Department of Labor and Workforce also announced Davidson and Williamson counties tied for having the lowest unemployment in the state with rates of 2.5 percent, a slight increase of 0.3 percentage points compared to October.

Eight of the 10 lowest county unemployment rates in November were in Middle Tennessee, with Knox and Sevier counties in East Tennessee rounding out the list of the top 10.

All counties in the top ten had a rate below 3 percent and unemployment rates in 87 Tennessee counties remained under 5 percent in November.

“The economy remains strong in Tennessee, but we are not going to let up on our Drive to 55 to ensure our workforce is ready for the demands of employers in the years to come,” Gov. Bill Haslam says.

Lauderdale County had the highest unemployment rate in November, at 5.5 percent, a 0.3 percentage point increase from the previous month.

Rhea and Bledsoe Counties both had rates of 5.4 percent, which represents a 0.1 percentage point increase for Rhea County and a 0.5 percentage point increase for Bledsoe County.

“While unemployment rates remain near historically low levels in many counties, there are still areas that need our assistance,” says Commissioner Burns Phillips.

“We are working with other state agencies, like the Department of Economic and Community Development, to create jobs and qualified workforces in those distressed counties.”

Belmont adds new courses for 2018

Belmont University’s Interdisciplinary Advisory Council has announced new course offerings. The following courses will be offered in the coming year:

Intro to Data Science (Spring 2018): The rapidly growing field brings together computer science, mathematics, statistics, machine learning and communication. This course will introduce students to this field while equipping them with its basic skills and mindset.

Data sciences is applicable and becoming increasingly important in many industries including health informatics, entertainment and economics.

Science and Sustainability (Spring 2018) will introduce concepts of sustainability by examining ways businesses and individuals can decrease their ecological impact and focusing on technologies currently employed on Belmont’s campus.

Learning Community Course (Spring 2018) Human Behavior in the Social Environment (Social Work) and Intro to Interdisciplinary Trauma Studies (English Writing): Students will be enrolled in both courses simultaneously to examine the ever-evolving field of trauma studies from a health and humanities perspective.

The Human Behavior course will examine the biological, psychological and social development of individuals, while considering human behavior from many perspectives.

The exploratory writing course will allow students to read a variety of theoretical and psychological studies on trauma, writing and the brain and write their own memoirs.

Students will consider how personal and traumatic writing fits into an academic writing course.

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